Population-based screening for postpartum depression

Obstet Gynecol. 1999 May;93(5 Pt 1):653-7. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(98)00543-2.


Objective: To estimate the community prevalence in Olmsted County, Minnesota of elevated scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a self-report screening tool for postpartum depression.

Methods: At the 6-week postpartum visit, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was administered to women who gave birth in Olmsted County between July 28, 1997 and March 28, 1998. Study sites included all ambulatory clinics that provide pregnancy care in the county, and women who missed postpartum visits were contacted by mail. A threshold of 12 or more points on the scale was selected for clinical use; data for scores of ten and above were also examined.

Results: Of the 909 Olmsted County women studied (response rate 83.2%), 11.4% (n = 104) had scores of 12 or greater, with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 9.4%, 13.5%. The percentage of women with a positive screen increased to 19.8% (n = 180; 95% CI 17.2%, 22.4%) when scores of 10 or higher were included, as has been recommended for screening in primary care settings. Forty-eight or 5.3% of the subjects (95% CI 3.8%, 6.7%) indicated experiencing suicidal ideation during the previous week.

Conclusion: More than 11% of women had elevated scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, indicating a high likelihood of postpartum depression and the need for further assessment. The screening process required little extra time and was acceptable to the subjects and clinicians. Screening for postpartum depression is appropriate and feasible for clinical practice and increases the identification of women suffering from this serious, common, and highly treatable disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Screening*
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Risk Factors